A little light bulb moment…
September is traditionally the month to consider creating winter tubs and to start planting spring flowering bulbs.
Bulbs are quick and easy to both plant and grow. If you are short on ground space they can be planted in containers and used on patios or window sills to brighten up the dullest day.
Most bulbs are suitable for growing in containers. Pots and tubs are particularly suited to those with large flowers, such as tulips, lilies, and alliums.
We recommend planting bulbs in layers of different varieties to prolong the splash of colour. To create a long-lasting impact, plant up several pots, each with a different variety, and group the pots together to make a colourful and long-lasting display.
Planting bulbs in containers
When choosing your bulbs check they are healthy and as fresh as possible. Avoid any that are damaged, shrivelled or feel soft, otherwise your spring display may not look as good as it should. Aim to plant the bulbs within a week of receiving them or they may begin to sprout.
Bulbs should be planted at twice the depth of their size. For example, a five centimetre (cm) bulb should be covered with 10cm of compost. Make sure the container you use has suitable drainage holes, cover these with stones or pebbles and then a layer of bulb fibre or compost.
Add a layer of the largest bulbs, tips upwards, making sure they do not touch each other. Pour on a layer of compost so just the tips of the bulbs are showing. Put in the next layer of bulbs, positioning them between the tips of the previous layer.
Add more layers if there is space, finishing with a top layer of compost that covers the bulbs, twice the depth of their size. Make sure you keep the pots watered to prevent the compost from drying out.
Wrap bubble wrap around the pots to protect the soil from frost during the winter months. Squirrels, mice and voles can also cause problems by digging out the bulbs. To prevent them from doing this you can place chicken wire over the pot until the shoots start to appear.
Once the shoots appear you can start feeding your bulbs every seven to 10 days with a high potassium fertiliser and this should help to produce good flowers. Stop feeding once they have finished flowering and the foliage begins to die.
If the tubs are close to the house and do not get watered through rainfall, keep a close eye on them and water when required. Watch out for vine weevil, slugs and snails too.
Other good plants for your winter bedding tubs include ivies, heathers, pansies, polyanthus, primroses and primulas. For large containers you can also use box, rhododendron, hebe, cotoneaster and holly.